Friday, November 11, 2011

Documentary Review: The Bridge

"The Bridge"

Fascinated at the thought that something so brutal and distgusting could only be Rated R, I would have thought NC-17 would have barely sufficed. Maybe because it’s the innocence in someone’s shape as they leap and how their body language describes their surety, or their hesitation. Maybe because it’s 4200 feet all the way down from a beautiful bridge we admire, or maybe it’s because we’ve all despaired and thought of such things, but never took it to the next level. That’s their moment and we’re exploiting the fact that they’re over it, and this place. I would say that someone could easily be reaching out by doing it in such a public space but the access to a place so high, so magnetic, and that landing in water just seems more pleasant than rocks at the bottom of a cliff or pavement at the bottom of a building, I suppose it makes more sense. The walk that these people take is like that of the plank on a ship where the crew wants their passenger to swim with the fishes. None of them are racing out to the middle of the bridge and just hurdling the shoulder-high fence to get it over with. They pace themselves, they wonder about what this life has brought them and why. One woman gets arrested three times as she stands so long at the precipice. It doesn’t help her cause that she wears the same style hat each time but in different colors because someone definitely calls the cops each time she’s there (we are left to wonder if it’s the cameraman the last two times). The main character in this work of panoramic discovery is Gene. He’s the exact person you think would jump off a bridge if you were walking by him that day. Long ratty black hair that whips around in the wind so uncontrollably that it slaps him silly. He has a tight leather black jacket and a defeated rocker look about him. His friends all say he talked about killing himself when you would ask a simple question like “what would you like for breakfast?” “To die” would be a typical answer. Gene is interesting because he’s tall, and his pale skin against his all black heavy metal guitarist ensemble looks angelic, or gothic. If the dialogue didn’t constantly lead up to his death, we might’ve thought he could walk away, but we did not want him too. By the end of this movie all you want to do is see people jump. I found myself concentrating so hard to see splashes in the water when they would show us the time lapse photography, and was let down when I didn’t see one. There’s something about seeing death and the disbelief that you’re watching it happen. It’s an experience unlike typical movies and TV, which are make believe and therefore it’s easy to shrug it off when someone gets killed, no matter how gory. Oddly enough, after the second jumper, it was easy to watch. Their trajectory, if they lept at the highest point, if they stepped over the ledge onto another ledge to await their decision, you start taking little notes to guess how serious they really were and you get a bit angry when they don’t do it, or are saved by a passerby. Yes, your heart races when you see them put their little hand onto that massive cable wire to lift themselves up onto the ledge. Their insignificance in size, space and time just drifts with the whipping clouds passing below them and the bridge. Since you as the viewer already know that what you’re watching is in the past, you’re willing to let happen what is completely out of your control, and that’s whether they live, or die. It’s probably the purest documentary out there because there’s no acting, no person signing a waiver letting a cameraman in their house to film what is absolutely the most intimate moment. You might think it’s also the most selfish documentary ever made, for the exposure of tainted minds and characters that could have somehow been helped and pulled back. I, however, do not agree with that sentiment. All these people wanted was to be noticed. To stand as high in front of the world as they could, screaming fuck you to the city that surrounded them and the sea below. Picking daylight as their perfect time to leap when we all know that the night is the worst and most feared for its loneliness. Because of their displays they are now known and remembered by me, and the thousands of others who have seen this. In light of popular yet sick ways to make a statement these days, they could have self-immolated in some tiny city in the hopes of spurning an Arab Spring. Would they have had any more purpose, or gusto then a guy pouring gasoline on himself?

Gene is the last in The Bridge to go, and that’s because he had the most dramatic fall and the best film footage from takeoff to landing. Instead of ruining with words what really is something terrifyingly quick but undeniably unforgettable, please take a look for yourself. And if not, there’ll be around 25 more people that will do it this year, and the next, and the year after that…after all, we’re a growing population. As sick as it sounds, I don’t look forward to a follow-up of The Bridge, but if there is one that comes out, I am bound to watch it.

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